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Cirillo's walk-off single lifts Twins

Jun 27, 2007 - 4:45 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- His aching knees kept him from leaping in celebration and he even felt a little guilty that his bloop hit landed safely, but Jeff Cirillo was happy to send the Minnesota Twins home with a victory nonetheless.

Pinch hitting with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 12th inning, Cirillo lofted a single to center field that landed in front of a diving Vernon Wells to give the Twins a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.

Cirillo, who was given the day off because of aching knees after starting three straight at first base, helped Minnesota even the four-game series at one apiece and was glad to help out not only his teammates, but everyone at the ballpark who endured a late evening.

"It was fun," Cirillo said. "It's one of those games, a game everyone obviously not the Blue Jays but the media, TV, everyone who works in the stadium, just wants to go home. So there were definitely a lot of people who were happy the ball fell."

After Minnesota and Toronto traded runs in the bottom of the seventh and top of the eighth, both teams went scoreless for four innings before the Twins got to left-handed reliever Brian Tallet (2-2).

Michael Cuddyer hit a one-out single to start the winning rally and Lew Ford singled with two outs to move Cuddyer to third base. The Blue Jays let Ford take off for second base without a throw and intentionally walked Mike Redmond to load the bases.

Cirillo, who has gotten regular playing time since Justin Morneau bruised his lung on Friday, came up for Jason Tyner to face the Toronto lefthander.

"He's supposed to hit lefties," manager Ron Gardenhire said of Cirillo. "He's struggling with his legs; that's not easy to sit for 12 innings and come up and put a swing on the ball and flip it out there. We needed that."

It was the seventh career walk-off hit for Cirillo and first since September 21, 2005, denying Toronto's bid for a season-high five-game winning streak.

Juan Rincon (3-1) picked up the victory with one inning of scoreless relief, capping a brilliant effort by the Twins' pitching staff.

After starter Scott Baker worked seven-plus innings, four relievers combined on five innings of hitless relief. Pat Neshek and closer Joe Nathan went two innings apiece, striking out three each.

Neither team scored until the bottom of the seventh inning as Baker and Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum hooked up in a stirring duel.

Baker had his best outing since May 19 - his first start of the season. He struck out a career-best nine batters in seven-plus innings, allowing a season-low one earned run and four hits.

"I think my stuff was basically the same, it was just better location with pitches," Baker said. "With two strikes, you can't sit there and throw a pitch that is technically a strike. It has to be down in the zone or down and in. I just made good strikeout pitches."

Baker retired the first nine batters he faced and allowed just one hit through five innings.

Wells led off the fourth inning with a ground-rule double but was stranded there after Baker induced a popout before striking out Matt Stairs and Troy Glaus.

Baker fanned four straight during his first time through the order, and retired Glaus, Stairs and Gregg Zaun on strikes twice each.

Marcum was nearly as sharp, continuing his stretch of solid outings since moving into the starting rotation. Marcum retired seven straight Twins before allowing a one-out double to Jason Tyner in the third inning.

Joe Mauer reached second on an infield single and moved up a base on second baseman Aaron Hill's throwing in the fourth frame, but was stranded in scoring position.

Marcum retired six straight following Mauer's hit, but Luis Castillo flared a one-out single to right field, only to be retired on Jason Bartlett's double-play ball back to the mound on a hit-and-run play.

"He's turned into a heck of a pitcher, and look at the couple of defensive plays he made," manager John Gibbons said. "Every pitcher that went out there on both sides was very good tonight."

Adam Lind singled off Baker to start the sixth inning, moved to second on John McDonald's sacrifice bunt and advanced to third on Wells' fly out to right field, but Baker got Alex Rios to bounce out to end the threat.

Glaus added a one-out single in the seventh, but was erased on a Frank Thomas double-play grounder.

It was another step in the right direction for Baker, who allowed two runs in five innings against the Mets in his previous start after having allowed 17 earned runs in only 13 1/3 innings over his three previous outings.

The Twins then put together their seventh-inning rally, which started with Cuddyer's one-out walk and a single by Torii Hunter. Jason Kubel then doubled down the right-field line, scoring Cuddyer to snap the scoreless tie.

The Twins could have done more damage had not Hunter been thrown out at home on a double play. Redmond flew out to Rios in shallow right field with one out and Hunter broke for home. The throw was up the third base line, but Zaun swiped at Hunter and replays show he grazed Hunter's hip for the out.

Hunter argued the call, as did Gardenhire, who was eventually ejected for the fourth time this season and 32nd time in his career.

Toronto fought back in the eighth inning. Zaun walked on nine pitches and Hill singled, ending Baker's night. Lind sacrificed both runners into scoring position off Dennys Reyes.

The Twins then brought in Neshek, who gave up a deep fly ball to pinch hitter Howie Clark for a sacrifice fly. Wells had a chance to give the Blue Jays the lead in his next at-bat but flied out to deep center field, stranding Hill at third.

Marcum and relievers Scott Downs, Casey Janssen and Jason Frasor then held Minnesota scoreless before Cirillo's heroics against Tallet.

"I'm sure I've lined out to end games with the game on the line," Cirillo said. "Every hit counts. You're celebrating a hit and it's a bloop hit, and you're like, whatever, all right. Let's jump up and down and go home."








  • AL
    FINAL 12
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    - - - - - - - - -
    TORONTO 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
    MINNESOTA 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
    10 11 12 R H E
    -- -- -- - - -
    TORONTO 0 0 0 1 4 1
    MINNESOTA 0 0 1 2 9 0 (FINAL 12)

    BATTERIES: TOR

    Jun 26 11:27 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JEFF CIRILLO SCORED MICHAEL CUDDYER.
    FINAL SCORE: MINNESOTA 2, TORONTO 1

    Blue Jays vs. TwinsJun 26 11:27 PM
  • 136
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 21 roots (Extra Innings)

    Blue Jays vs. TwinsJun 26 11:10 PM
  • 115
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 15 roots (Extra Innings)

    Blue Jays vs. TwinsJun 26 10:57 PM
  • 100
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 40 roots (Extra Innings)

    Blue Jays vs. TwinsJun 26 10:26 PM
  • 60
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 60 roots (Close Finish)

    Blue Jays vs. TwinsJun 26 10:07 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY HOWIE CLARK SCORED GREGG ZAUN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, A HILL ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TORONTO 1
    MINNESOTA 1 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR TORONTO: V WELLS (.252, 1-FOR-3)

    Blue Jays vs. TwinsJun 26 10:01 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY JASON KUBEL SCORED MICHAEL CUDDYER.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J KUBEL ON SECOND, T HUNTER ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TORONTO 0
    MINNESOTA 1 BOTTOM, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: M REDMOND (.299, 0-FOR-2)

    Blue Jays vs. TwinsJun 26 9:44 PM